Is Najib diluting local leaders’ influence?

Not everyone in Umno is happy with his meet-the-people sessions.

(Free Malaysia Today) – The election fever is still around, but temperatures are not as high as they were at the end of last year, when politics was on everyone’s lips, including schoolchildren.

The fever started going down in December, when people were busy collecting the RM100 government handouts for their school-going children. This month, they are busy filling up forms for the RM500 cash aid.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is continuing with his meet-the-people sessions, announcing various new policies and trying to rebut allegations of Barisan Nasional misdeeds. The opposition parties seem to have plenty of information that even grassroots Umno leaders are not privy to.

Najib’s people claim that he is not on an election campaign trail, but merely doing his duty of seeing to it that the people get the most out of the country’s economic development.

However, voices from both sides of the political divide insist that he is campaigning, playing Santa Claus to win votes for BN.

In Umno itself, grassroots leaders liken Najib’s campaign to the United States’ presidential campaign. A Selangor-based leader said the prime minister was doing exactly what an American presidential candidate would do – moving from one state to another at lightning speed.

But are Malaysian voters ready for that kind of politics?

“Malaysian voters, if I am not wrong, do not go much for the kind of party politics that Najib is trying to promote now – vote BN because I am the chairman and I will see to it that your problems will be solved,” said the Selangor Umno man.

“Malaysians, especially the rural Malays, still want to be connected with their assemblymen or MPs on a personal basis. They get some kind of satisfaction with assurances from the assemblymen or MPs although some may be aware that they might not even raise their problems with the party leadership.

“Given that kind of attitude, I wonder how effective Najib’s campaign is although he and other leaders say it is not a campaign but a series of meet-the-people sessions or whatever name they care to call it.”